Hi! My name is Karin Åkesdotter and I’m from Gothenburg, Sweden (follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, and visit my blog!) I have been crafting for as long as I can remember, driving my mum crazy with new ideas all the time – paper crafts of all kinds, designing and sewing projects, knitting, ceramics, lacemaking etc. Always making a mess and having her help me even though I’d promised I would manage on my own. Art, needlework, woodwork and home economics were of course my favorite subjects in school.

Doodlewash - watercolor painting by Karin Åkesdotter of flowers

My love for watercoloring started when I was 19 and went to Lexington, Massachussets to work as an AuPair through the AuPair in America program. Through the program each Au Pair got to take a class of their choice for free, and I picked Watercolor. I was lucky to get a fantastic teacher, Mrs. Norma Regillo who was the Art teacher at Lexington High School. We were a group of 15 people from the area, men, women, young and old, who met every Tuesday evening, and for each class, Mrs. Regillo would have prepared a new subject with new techniques for us to learn.

Doodlewash - watercolor painting by Karin Åkesdotter of vegetablesShe would paint a painting from start to finish during class and we would copy her process and create our own versions of that painting. We learnt everything from what colors would make successful mixes and washes for skies etc. to how to paint a snow storm or create texture for the bark of Birch trees. Before the class ended she would go through everyone’s paintings with all of us to look, both at what was successful but also at things that weren’t so good and how we could avoid them next time. I learnt so much and will forever be grateful to her for sharing her talent and knowledge with us.

I continued to paint when I returned to Sweden but didn’t have a lot of time because at the same time I was accepted for the teacher program at Gothenburg University. I majored in Arts and Craft (Surprise!) with focus on textiles and have now been teaching needlework at Ytterby Highschool for 18 years. I absolutely love my work and my students. Needlework and woodwork are compulsory subjects for both boys and girls and we work with lots of different materials and techniques but I also teach the design process, color theory, recycling and sustainable environment. I am challenged every day to guide and help my students find solutions to put their ideas and designs into reality. Their creativity and their thought that nothing is impossible are so inspiring!

Doodlewash - watercolor painting by Karin Åkesdotter of elephant

Over the years, I would take out my paints now and then, mostly on excursions to the archipelago, which is my favorite subject for painting, but if I left my comfort zone, I would often be disappointed with the results because I felt I’d lost the feeling for it. I had no real audience for my work and except for a “My favorite summer spot” challenge hosted by Winsor & Newton that I entered (and won) at my local art store In-ex, it was hard to find motivation to paint.

Then came blogging and I discovered the world of cardmaking. The cardmaking community is a wonderful and surprisingly large, and constantly expanding, group of very supportive and creative women (and a few men) from all over the world who share their designs with each other. Best of all, there are also lots of card making challenges you can enter. There is usually a subject, color theme, sketch, picture collage or technique to follow and interpret and this is a spark to my creativity.

Doodlewash - watercolor painting by Karin Åkesdotter of lighthouseI did well in challenges and soon got the chance to be on the design teams for some of the large stamp companies in the industry. I absolutely love to get a new product and see what can be done with it – can it be used in other ways than the obvious? What happens if I use it with this or that technique?  etc. I got visitors to my blog who saw what I made and there was a new inspiring reason to craft. I was in heaven.

Over the years, watercoloring has become a very popular part/ technique in card making and I soon realized how much I missed painting. So, three years ago, I gave myself a New Year’s resolution – I would start painting more regularly again and to motivate myself I set up a feature on my blog called Sunday Watercolor. I “promised” my followers I would have a new painting to share every Sunday. In the beginning, it was really tough because I would have quite high expectations of the outcome. I knew how I wanted to paint and how I had been able to paint earlier. I got frustrated and threw a lot away, but then decided to share the process and with support from my wonderfully sweet followers and bloggie friends I continued and managed to complete my year. I didn’t feel “back on track,” but at least on my way there.

During the school term it is hard for me to find time, motivation and energy to paint, but as soon as summer break started this year, I knew I wanted to try to find my way back. I just needed something to motivate myself and remembered I had seen some artists do something called a 30-day challenge last year and started googling it. I still can’t believe my luck when I discovered Charlie’s Doodlewash page and the World Watercolor Month initiative! – And it was only the 3rd of July when I did, so there was still lots of time to play along.

Doodlewash - watercolor painting by Karin Åkesdotter of baby seal

This was exactly what I needed – prompts to tackle and an audience to share my work with and a whole group of super talented artists to inspire me! I just couldn’t be happier! BIG, BIG Thank You and hugs to Charlie and to all the members of the Facebook GroupAs soon as I visit the group, I want to try something new, a new technique a new subject or a new take on something I just painted. I just wish there were more hours to the day.

My favorite subject is landscape painting and I love to paint en plein air, especially when we go out on day trips to the archipelago (Gothenburg is on the beautiful west coast of Sweden) but more because it is so relaxing than because of the outcome of the paintings… Some paintings are started as plein air and then finished off at my desk at home. Most often, what I do is that I collect sketches, colors or color combos from the places we visit – material that I can use later together with my photo references when I paint at my desk.

Doodlewash - watercolor painting by Karin Åkesdotter of catWhen I start a painting I tape my paper to a board and make a light sketch with a hard pencil. My drawing is never very detailed because I want to achieve a looser look and not be too restricted to my drawings. This is something I constantly try to work on and have found that the best way for me to practice it, is to paint without any preliminary sketches or drawings at all, and on paper I don’t care too much about – like the backside of a failed painting. Earlier, I would practice or try to be bold and loose on cheaper paper but not any longer because I’ve realized that part of getting to be a better painter is to know how your paints behave and how they behave on the paper you use.

The papers I use are Arches cold pressed fine or rough 140lb (300 grs) or Fabriano Artistico 140lb (300 grs) that I buy as full sheets and cut to different sizes. My paints are from Winsor & Newton and my favorite colors on my palette are: French Ultramarine, Burnt Umber, Raw and Burnt Sienna, Aerolin, Quinacridone Gold, Alizarin Crimson, and Payne’s Grey. I also want to mention Viridian Green and Prussian Blue because I use them for mixing my grays and greens.

Doodlewash - watercolor painting by Karin Åkesdotter of villageI mostly use pans, because I think they last longer, more paint for my money, and they are easier to carry along and faster to start using, but I have most colors in tubes too. When I use tube colors I will often put the paint on top of my pan colors in my palette so that if there’s some paint left when I’m done it can dry there and it isn’t wasted. To keep them nice and vivid, I always buy my yellows in tubes though, because I mix my own greens and therefore my yellows tend to get dirty quite quickly.

The brushes I use are Winsor & Newton and Da Vinci round 6, 8 and 10 and a rigger for branches and grass. I own other types of brushes too, but for some reason they often remain dry.

I love trying new products or material for inspiration but seldom use them in my paintings. Masking fluid for example is great if you want to go loose with a background or so and not having to worry about covering what you want to leave white, but I try to avoid using it because I think it leaves harder edges, that can look a bit strange, than if I try to just paint around the areas I want white.  But the actual reason I don’t use any other products than my paints and brushes is because I forget to, because when I finally find time or inspiration I’m too eager to start painting.

Layering transparent watercolors is one of the most beautiful parts in a watercolor, but also the hardest for me to do well since it takes a lot of patience, which I lack. Therefore, I often work on two paintings at the same time – to give the paintings a chance to dry before I’m there with my next layer/color. Something I constantly have to remind myself is to stop in time, before a painting looks overworked. Often I’ve been interrupted by something toward the end of a painting and have been forced to leave it and when I come back later to finish it, I’ve realized that no more actually needs to be done to it.

Doodlewash - watercolor painting by Karin Åkesdotter of tomatoes

Artists I admire are Lars Lerin – he’s simply an amazing watercolor artist and a wonderful person, Nina Johansson –  how I’d love to be able to urban sketch like her.   And Brenda Swenson, Hazel Soan and Sterling Edwards for their amazing talent – absolutely adore their work – but also because they share their painting processes so generously on the internet.

Karin Åkesdotter

Posted by:Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world!

47 replies on “GUEST DOODLEWASH: The Love of Crafting and Painting

  1. So glad to see you featured on here, Karin! Proud of you and that you’ve continued to paint since you started your Sunday Watercolour feature – I remember when you started and love that it has become a habit and your paintings are really lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. so glad to see your work showcased! i follow your blog and every time you post one of your paintings i think wow, i wish i could paint like that! i only watercolour other peoples’ images.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank You so much Linda for your sweet Words! That’s a great way – both because it is inspiring and because you learn new techniques and to see how things can be painted in many different ways.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Karin! My story is similar to yours but flip flopped. I started out as a card maker many years ago and just started watercolor in the last couple of years. Your paintings look effortless, although I know how much work goes into them. I am happily following you on Instagram now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How fun to read Carol – I have a habit of leaving my painting to make a card instead because it is easier – even though there is a lot of work put into those cards, you can’t really fail the same way you can with a painting – and thanks for knowing about the work behind something (there are quite a few papers in my wastepaperbasket as I’m writing (-: ) Looking forward to see your paintings!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Stunning work, Karin. Your works always bring smiles and sighs to me. Thank you for sharing your beautiful paintings. And thank you for sharing your love of art and how you share it with students. It’s an honor to ‘know’ you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Your work deserves to be recognized, Karin! I love seeing your paintings–and that seal has got to be one of my faves of yours! Congratulations on the well deserved feature!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh my sweet friend… I feel so blessed to call you my friend. I so enjoyed your one year long Sunday Watercolors, and will continue to follow you on your journey! Your 30 Day quest was filled with beauty, and we even got to see you stretch a bit🙂 Thanks so much for sharing this feature story… I’m ready for your next adventure, and so excited to have our promised chat SOON – with love and hugs…🙂 Michele

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Michele, you know you are the one I’m Writing about in this feature! I would never have continued my Sunday Watercolors if it hadn’t been for your kind Words and support. Will Always be so grateful to you for that! LOVE!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks so much for sharing your story and your paintings! I am in awe of all your work and hope some day to be able to water color just one half as well as you do! You are so inspiring!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This makes me so super happy to read – Thanks for your kind Words Joan! You probably already do- you just don’t know it – it’s a lot about how you Think about it – take a Picture of something you’ve painted and look at it on the computer – promise you will be surprised! (Yesterday I actually cut a painting I had thrown in the bin apart to use part of it for a cardmaiking Project instead – I photographed the cardmaking for a mini tutorial – and now when I look at those Pictures I wonder – why did I Think that was crap – it wasn’t so bad after all – too late to piece it together again though. Promise you’ll try and let me know if it worked!!! Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Karin, congratulations on being “doodlewashed”! You certainly deserve any recognition that comes your way. I first “met” you on the MFT blog, enjoying the cards you create with the MFT stamps. Then I saw your amazing watercolor creations, which make me say “wow” to myself every time you post a new one. Thank you for sharing your lovely story and your beautiful works of art.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How fun! And thank you so much for your kind words! I just know that you must be the butterfly girl with the fun card designs – right? Love what you create! Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. What a wonderful feature. I’m fairly new to your blog and it was lovely to read a little about your background and to see that you are a teacher. What lucky students! Thank you for sharing your work. I find it beautiful. Seeing what you have created makes me happy and oh so appreciative of the beauty in our world. Thank you so much and I look forward to seeing more!🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you sooo much Jeanne – your kind words make me so happy – and proud to be a teacher too – even though it feels tough now with only two days left of summer break 0-: I look forward to seeing more of your work too! Love!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You’ve shared so much of your personal story, and I’ve enjoyed each word and each painting. Isn’t it amazing that a single class opened you to a future you didn’t imagine, and now see how successful you’ve become. It isn’t a surprise – you worked hard, you created avenues of expression and exposure for your art. I wonder how many people will sign up for the au pair program because of your experiences. Your art is exceptional – I love the depth and glow of your paintings, the vivid colors, the nearly hidden seagull on the teacup, and the way the seal (sea lion?) implores me to love him.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank You so much Sharon! Your words make me so happy to read! And yes I’m so happy for both my au pair year (which taught me sooo much!) and that watercolor class – I just didn’t realize then how much I had learnt from mrs Regillo.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. If there is anyone who deserves to have her work recognised, it is you Karin! Your work is so lifelike and quite the most stunning watercolours I have ever seen. The depth you create in your pictures is just amazing. Congratulations on being featured here – your projects are fantastic!!

    Liked by 1 person

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